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Author Topic: I survived a charming attempt  (Read 204 times)
TRB
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
Posts: 52


« on: November 10, 2020, 07:47:00 AM »

I recently separated from my UstbxBPDSO of 25 years.  The last 6 years were pretty hellish.  Many more idealization/devaluation/discard cycles than I can count, plus increasing intensity of her splitting, eventually becoming physically violent.  We went through SIX couples' therapists, two of whom she walked out on and three of whom essentially fired us because they said there was nothing else they could do to help.

I take responsibility for my codependent clinging to this relationship long after it would have been wise for me to leave.  I did start therapy about 4 years ago, along with meditation, developing stronger relationships with friends, family, and community, all of which helped me tremendously in developing my self-love, self-esteem, and ability to stay present with myself in general and in interactions with my partner.

I moved out about 4 months ago and have been living in my own place.  It has been great, even with all the challenges of COVID.  My (ex) partner and I had talked about attempting to maintaining some form of friendly contact, and we took a couple of walks together.  Even this minimal contact still brought all of the same old patterns into play, and one of the times we spent together actually triggered PTSD flashbacks for me the next morning.  It was at that time that I told her I was going to go no contact.

Not surprisingly, she wanted to meet and talk.  I knew it might be a bad idea for me to do that when I wanted to go no contact.  I was afraid that my old codependent self would cave in.  But I was also confident in my new ability to hold onto myself.  So I agreed to go for a walk.

The charming attempt that she made was so textbook that it felt creepy.  I am glad I have been through it before and also read about charming extensively, so that I could observe it while it was happening and not get sucked into it.  This person, who has virtually no ability to stay in control of her emotions, was completely calm the whole time, except when she cried as she begged for forgiveness.  This person, who never apologizes or takes responsibility for her actions, acknowledged all of the ways in which she had been cruel to me and been unable to listen to me or respect my feelings, and she apologized profusely.  She told me about all of the ways in which she is working on herself and begged for a second chance.  (In my mind this would be about the 50th chance.)  When I told her repeatedly that we've been here before many times, and that I have made many efforts to reach out to her over the years, and have received nothing but hostility, rage, and rejection in return, she kept saying "but it will be different this time."

She told me about how she understands how hurtful her anger has been to me and to her, and that she is learning to get in touch with and accept her feelings so that they do not turn into anger.  She said she needed my help in this journey of hers to learn how to deal with her feelings in a more healthy way.

I admit that I felt a lot of empathy for her, and I believe that in her heart and mind she honestly believed and felt what she was saying in those moments.  This did trigger some of my conditioned habit of wanting to respond by agreeing to try again and to help her.  I honestly do hope that she can heal and become a better person, for herself and others.

But (as a result of all of the work I have done) I kept asking myself in my mind, "What am I feeling?  What do I want?  What is best for me?"  All while fighting the old feelings of being "selfish" for paying attention to my own needs.

I was able to successfully feel deep compassion for her, while simultaneously being aware of and holding onto my own feelings, desires, and needs.  And what I kept coming back to, and saying to her, was "It would not be healthy for me to re-engage with you, as much as it might be helpful to you.  I am not in a space where I would want to subject myself to the pain I know I would feel if we started interacting again, and I have moved on to a new life where I am increasingly feeling grounded and good about myself, both alone and in my interactions with other people.  That is where I have decided to put my energy now."

After a while of this, she alternated between being sad and angry for a while.  The anger didn't get too intense, but I could see some of the same old patterns emerging, especially with her judging me and insulting me.  It died down and I give her credit for saying, "This is not what I want, but I respect your decision."  But when I felt the anger and judgment, it confirmed for me that my decision to make a clean break was the right one.  She may be a boxer who could really benefit from more training, but I don't have a responsibility to be the punching bag.

We parted and I felt a little upset by the interaction, but mostly I felt great!  I could have easily not met with her at all, and that probably would have been easier.  Some of you may think it was a bad decision for me to meet with her at all.  But in retrospect I feel like it was my "breaking free of codependency" graduation ceremony!   Smiling (click to insert in post)  I put myself into the arena, with her using every charming tool at her disposal (and she is a master), and I was able to remain present and stay in touch with my own feelings and thoughts the whole time, while being compassionate towards her, and without becoming afraid or letting myself be sucked into the charming (which I have done MANY times in the past).

I feel confident that all of my efforts to work on my codependency have really paid off and that, although I know I am not necessarily "cured," this is a huge accomplishment that leaves me feeling secure in my ability to bring my new self to other relationships with the confidence that I won't fall into the same codependent spiral as before.

I have been on and off this message board for years, and thanks to all of you!  I may not be back on here too much, but who knows.  I am sure this will be a continued journey.

I am curious to know if any of you have any feedback or similar experiences.  And I can handle it if you think I should have gone straight no contact and not had that last meeting with her.  For what it's worth, I have no intention of meeting or speaking with her again if she wants to try again, and I believe that I will be able to stand strong in my refusal to meet if she reaches out.
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UnforgivenII
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Posts: 316



« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2020, 04:13:37 PM »

Wonderful. Well done. Now please go no contact and don't look back.
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Goosey
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Divorcing
Posts: 187


« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2020, 04:48:36 PM »

Thank you for sharing that.
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Goosey
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Divorcing
Posts: 187


« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2020, 04:57:38 PM »

Charming?
Maybe an attempt  yesterday.
Because she is dead broke I’m sure.(with no excuse but I’m sure there is a rant of why in there if I mistakenly offered ).
I’m past that stuff. I’ll be fair on remaining divorce issues but I’m past sucker phase.
Someone asked me yesterday if I would ever want to go back as a couple. And I honestly said no. (And that makes me feel free!)
Care for her and want the best for her. But I don’t treat people like she does.
  So anyway Great Post!
Shows we all come out of the fog and the sun can shine.
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I Am Redeemed
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Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
Relationship status: Separated, divorce not filed yet
Posts: 1582



« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2020, 07:47:03 PM »

Excerpt
She may be a boxer who could really benefit from more training, but I don't have a responsibility to be the punching bag.

I love this. This sums it up so well.

Congratulations to you! I think you should be proud of your response to this situation.

I think the measure of healing comes not from being able to maintain no contact, but being able to have contact without falling back into old behaviors and patterns. You were able to remain true to your new self with your new ways of thinking and responding while subjected to her old patterns and behaviors that used to drag you back into the dysfunctional dance.

That is a huge deal. Well done.
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